[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 17 (Thursday, January 26, 2012)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 3956-3957]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-1618]



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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 679

[Docket No. 101126522-0640-02]
RIN 0648-XA956


Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Pacific Cod 
by Non-American Fisheries Act Crab Vessels Operating as Catcher/
Processors Using Pot Gear in the Western Regulatory Area of the Gulf of 
Alaska

AGENCY: National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and 
Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce.

ACTION: Temporary rule; modification of a closure.

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SUMMARY: NMFS is opening directed fishing for Pacific cod by non-
American Fisheries Act (AFA) crab vessels operating as catcher/
processors using pot gear in the Western Regulatory Area of the Gulf of 
Alaska (GOA) for seven days. This action is necessary to fully use the 
A season allowance of the 2012 Pacific cod sideboard limit established 
for non-AFA crab vessels operating as catcher/processors using pot gear 
in the Western Regulatory Area of the GOA.

DATES: Effective 1200 hrs, Alaska local time (A.l.t.), January 23, 2012 
through 1200 hrs, A.l.t., January 30, 2012. Comments must be received 
at the following address no later than 4:30 p.m., A.l.t., February 10, 
2012.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on this document, identified by 
NOAA-NMFS-2012-0010, by any of the following methods:
     Electronic Submission: Submit all electronic public 
comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal www.regulations.gov. To 
submit comments via the e-Rulemaking Portal, first click the ``submit a 
comment'' icon, then enter NOAA-NMFS-2012-0010 in the keyword search. 
Locate the document you wish to comment on from the resulting list and 
click on the ``Submit a Comment'' icon on that line.
     Mail: Address written comments to Glenn Merrill, Assistant 
Regional Administrator, Sustainable Fisheries Division, Alaska Region 
NMFS, Attn: Ellen Sebastian. Mail comments to P.O. Box 21668, Juneau, 
AK 99802-1668.
     Fax: Address written comments to Glenn Merrill, Assistant 
Regional Administrator, Sustainable Fisheries Division, Alaska Region 
NMFS, Attn: Ellen Sebastian. Fax comments to (907) 586-7557.
     Hand delivery to the Federal Building: Address written 
comments to Glenn Merrill, Assistant Regional Administrator, 
Sustainable Fisheries Division, Alaska Region NMFS, Attn: Ellen 
Sebastian. Deliver comments to 709 West 9th Street, Room 420A, Juneau, 
AK.
    Instructions: Comments must be submitted by one of the above 
methods to ensure that the comments are received, documented, and 
considered by NMFS. Comments sent by any other method, to any other 
address or individual, or received after the end of the comment period, 
may not be considered. All comments received are a part of the public 
record and will generally be posted for public viewing on 
www.regulations.gov without change. All personal identifying 
information (e.g., name, address) submitted voluntarily by the sender 
will be publicly accessible. Do not submit confidential business 
information, or otherwise sensitive or protected information. NMFS will 
accept anonymous comments (enter ``N/A'' in the required fields if you 
wish to remain anonymous). Attachments to electronic comments will be 
accepted in Microsoft Word or Excel, WordPerfect, or Adobe PDF file 
formats only.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Josh Keaton, (907) 586-7228.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: NMFS manages the groundfish fishery in the 
GOA exclusive economic zone according to the Fishery Management Plan 
for Groundfish of the Gulf of Alaska (FMP) prepared by the North 
Pacific Fishery Management Council under authority of the Magnuson-
Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act. Regulations governing 
fishing by U.S. vessels in accordance with the FMP appear at subpart H 
of 50 CFR part 600 and 50 CFR part 679.
    The A season allowance of the 2012 Pacific cod sideboard limit 
established for non-AFA crab vessels operating as catcher/processors 
using pot gear in the Western Regulatory Area of the GOA is 98 metric 
tons as established by the final 2011 and 2012 harvest specifications 
for groundfish in the GOA (76 FR 11111, March 1, 2011) and inseason 
adjustment (77 FR 438, January 5, 2012).
    NMFS closed directed fishing for Pacific cod by non-AFA crab 
vessels operating as catcher/processors using pot gear in the Western 
Regulatory Area of the GOA under Sec.  680.22(e)(3) on January 1, 2012 
(76 FR 81860, December 29, 2011).
    As of January 17, 2012, NMFS has determined that approximately 98 
metric tons remains in the A season allowance of the 2012 Pacific cod 
sideboard limit established for non-AFA crab vessels operating as 
catcher/processors using pot gear in the Western Regulatory Area of the 
GOA. Furthermore, NMFS has determined that this remaining amount of 
Pacific cod is sufficient to support a directed fishery. Therefore, in 
accordance with Sec.  679.25(a)(1)(i), (a)(2)(i)(C), and 
(a)(2)(iii)(D), and to fully utilize the 2012 Pacific cod sideboard 
limit established for non-AFA crab vessels operating as catcher/
processors using pot gear in the Western Regulatory Area of the GOA, 
NMFS is terminating the previous closure and is reopening directed 
fishing of Pacific cod by non-AFA crab vessels operating as catcher/
processors using pot gear in the Western Regulatory Area of the GOA. 
The Administrator, Alaska Region (Regional Administrator) considered 
the following factors in reaching this decision: (1) The current catch 
of Pacific cod by non-AFA crab vessels operating as catcher/processors 
using pot gear in the Western Regulatory Area of the GOA and, (2) the 
harvest capacity and stated intent on future harvesting patterns of 
vessels in participating in this fishery.
    In accordance with Sec.  680.22(e)(2)(i), the Administrator, Alaska 
Region, NMFS (Regional Administrator) has determined that the A season 
allowance of the 2012 Pacific cod sideboard limit established for non-
AFA crab vessels operating as catcher/processors using pot gear in the 
Western Regulatory Area of the GOA will be reached after seven days. 
Therefore, the Regional Administrator is establishing a sideboard 
directed fishing allowance of 88 mt, and is setting aside the remaining 
10 mt as bycatch to support other anticipated groundfish fisheries. In 
accordance with Sec.  680.22(e)(3), the Regional Administrator finds 
that this sideboard directed fishing allowance has been reached. 
Consequently, NMFS is prohibiting directed fishing for Pacific cod by 
non-AFA crab vessels operating as catcher/processors using pot gear in 
the Western Regulatory Area of the GOA.

Classification

    This action responds to the best available information recently 
obtained from the fishery. The Assistant Administrator for Fisheries, 
NOAA (AA), finds good cause to waive the requirement to provide prior 
notice and opportunity for public comment pursuant to the authority set 
forth at 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(B) as such requirement is impracticable and 
contrary to the public interest. This requirement is

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impracticable and contrary to the public interest as it would prevent 
NMFS from responding to the most recent fisheries data in a timely 
fashion and would delay the opening in the Pacific cod by non-AFA crab 
vessels operating as catcher/processors using pot gear in the Western 
Regulatory Area of the GOA. Immediate notification is necessary to 
allow for the orderly conduct and efficient operation of this fishery, 
to allow the industry to plan for the fishing season, and to avoid 
potential disruption to the fishing fleet and processors. NMFS was 
unable to publish a notice providing time for public comment because 
the most recent, relevant data only became available as of January 17, 
2012.
    The AA also finds good cause to waive the 30-day delay in the 
effective date of this action under 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(3). This finding is 
based upon the reasons provided above for waiver of prior notice and 
opportunity for public comment.
    Without this inseason adjustment, NMFS could not allow of Pacific 
cod by non-AFA crab vessels operating as catcher/processors using pot 
gear in the Western Regulatory Area of the GOA to be harvested in an 
expedient manner and in accordance with the regulatory schedule. Under 
Sec.  679.25(c)(2), interested persons are invited to submit written 
comments on this action to the above address until February 10, 2012.
    This action is required by Sec.  679.25 and is exempt from review 
under Executive Order 12866.

    Authority:  16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.

    Dated: January 23, 2012.
Steven Thur,
Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, Office of Sustainable 
Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 2012-1618 Filed 1-23-12; 4:15 pm]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-P